Saul was the first king of Israel. He did not aspire to be his nation’s ruler but found himself in that position after an encounter with the prophet Samuel while looking for his father’s lost donkeys.
God had told Samuel that a man would approach him who would be king. Saul first approached the prophet seeking direction about the lost animals. Samuel was waiting with a feast prepared and Saul was the guest of honor!
The plan of God will not always be found in the places we expect. Saul was surprised by the prophet and there will be times that we will be equally surprised to learn what God has planned for us.
This is another key! Many people have been unable to unlock the plan of God simply because they did not keep an open mind. It is important to never forget the plan of God may lead us in directions that do not fit our preconceived plans.
There are some additional lessons to be learned from Saul’s life. The first is that God changed Saul’s heart when he was anointed by Samuel (1 Samuel 10:9). We may find ourselves led to go in directions that may not have been our first choice.
Successfully fulfilling the plan of God will require us to train ourselves to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. There will be times we will end up in places that we have no desire to be in. I’ve found that God always changes my heart in regards to the places He leads me to just as He did with Saul.
Kenneth E. Hagin told a story about one certain church that he had pastored. It was one of the hardest churches he had been called to lead. Several years after leaving he felt led to go back. His wife had a witness but neither of them had any desire to go back. Surprisingly, the church elders accepted them back to pastor the church. They had one of the best times in their twelve years of pastoring!
21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
22 Therefore they enquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold he hath hid himself among the stuff.
1 Samuel 10:21-22
God gave Saul another heart and the Spirit of God came on Him. He prophesied and experienced the power of God. The Spirit had come on him to be king but when it came time for him to be anointed he hid.
Saul was focused on himself. He perceived himself unworthy and tried to hide from the plan when it was time to step in. God had changed his heart but he allowed fear to rule and tried to hide from the plan. Fear is a powerful tool Satan uses to keep us from stepping into the plan of God.
Some people mistakenly think their troubles will end when they discover and step into the plan of God. This is not always the case as is illustrated by the life of Saul. Samuel anointed him king but that was no guarantee things would go smoothly!
Israel was attacked by the Philistines after Saul had been king for two years. The situation was dire. Israeli’s were either hiding or crying out to their king for deliverance. They had their eyes in the wrong place.
Saul responded to the situation correctly. He arranged to meet the prophet Samuel to have a burnt offering presented to God. Troubles will come but can be overcome if we will just turn our eyes to God.
Unfortunately, Samuel did not arrive at the time planned. Saul had a choice to make. The right choice would be to wait for the prophet. The Philistines were attacking and Israel was in hiding. We cannot begin to imagine the pressure this must have put on their king!
There will be times along the path God calls us to walk in which answers will seemingly be delayed. It may seem as if we are being attacked from every side. Succeeding or failing will be dependent on how we respond. Our choice will be to either act in fear or to stay in faith.
The people were looking to Saul for deliverance. He was under pressure and made the wrong choice. Saul chose to act when he should have waited and offered the burnt offering in Samuel’s place. This was an act reserved for prophets and priests.
Let’s pause and consider what we would do if placed in Saul’s position using a modern-day example. We arrive at work only to be told that our position has been eliminated. No severance is offered and our spouse is also not employed. There are bills to be paid and our family is looking to us as the breadwinner.
For our example let’s assume we make the right choice and turn to God for direction before sending out resumes. He directs us to a certain company and we submit our resume knowing that God has promised us the job! We celebrate the new job by faith but then time passes with no response to our resume. The longer we wait the more the pressure that is piled on us seems to increase. Our family is looking to us as the breadwinner so do we continue standing or do we start submitting resumes to other companies?
So Saul chose to act instead of waiting for the prophet of God. He offered a sacrifice for the nation but it was not his place to do so. It is easy to point fingers but consider our example. If you or I were in Saul’s position what would we have done?
We can’t guess the pressure Saul was under. The Philistines were attacking his kingdom and the people were looking to him for an answer. He offered the sacrifice and Samuel arrived just as he had finished.
11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
1 Samuel 13:11-13
Saul acted while the prophet was about to arrive. How many times have we succumbed to pressure and acted just before our answer manifested?
Impatience cost Saul the crown. I believe that this would not have been the case had he admitted his mistake and repented. Instead, he offered excuses for his sin.
“The Philistines were coming and I realized a sacrifice had not been made so I forced myself to do it!”
Saul was moved by the situation because he was not looking to God. We will all face situations where the pressure to act will seem to be overwhelming us. Our outcome will be determined by where our eyes are focused.
The Holy Spirit is standing by to help us. He will help us rest in the storm but only if we look to him. The human race seems to have an inherent character flaw resulting from the sin of Adam that leads us to look at the storms raging around us instead of to the Holy Spirit for help.
There is peace to be found in every storm. Finding it will require us to seek God in prayer and His Word. This must be a daily habit even when storms are not raging around us. For most Christians, it is not which explains why we so often fail during a storm. We have not trained ourselves to seek God first in everything.
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